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October 1996 Reviews TOC

10/96 Reviews SW: ACT 3.0

Symantec Cleans Up Its ACT

By James E. Powell

Things had become strangely quiet in the ACT camp, which left many of us wondering if Symantec had abandoned its market-leading contact manager. Not so. The new ACT offers significant updated features and a new, easy-to-use interface that keeps it in the running.

ACT now splits itself into two resizable panes. The topmost offers the standard fields-name, address, phone-you'd find in any contact manager. The bottom window's tabs let you switch between contact notes.

Adding new fields to the dozens already in the layout is a no-brainer. Simply choose from an available field list, then drag and drop the field into ACT's intuitive forms designer. You can format fields, enter valid values from drop-down lists, and generate a record in the Notes tab whenever specific values change.

You can switch between the standard layout and a columnar grid, but any form can be modified using the well-designed and intuitive form tools.

If you depend on e-mail, use the e-mail address field and a simple command to create mail-merged Internet messages via Microsoft Exchange, or use e-mail to send contact information (including notes, history and activities) to others who can merge it into their own ACT databases. Although it wasn't ready in the beta I tested, Symantec promises ACT will be able to open any Web site based on the name in its Web Page field.

You can use the old ACT built-in editor or choose Word or WordPerfect 6.x or higher to create your documents. The Notes tab automatically maintains a log of field value changes, and you can add your own notes as well. The program also lets you record each of your new docments in the Notes section.

The Activities tab puts all tasks associated with a contact in a single spot. Click on a calendar date, and you'll see everything scheduled for the day.

The Mobile User Synchronization feature, a version 2.0 add-in, is now incorporated into the core product, with a few added features. You can now perform field-by-field merging (changes are time- and date-stamped) and two-way synchronization. Although it wasn't in my beta, ACT can serve as an automatic group synchronization server that will check for incoming updates, apply them and update mobile users.

Apparently, Symantec has left some counter-intuitive features for the next upgrade. For example, you can't just view a contact by double-clicking on the contact name from the Task list.

But if your day includes trolling for customers or following up on leads or tasks, ACT 3.0 could make a great centerpiece.

Info File
ACT 3.0
$199.95; upgrade, $89.95
Pros: User interface; customization options
Cons: No mass change option
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT
Disk Space: 18MB
Symantec Corp.
800-441-7234, 408-253-9600
WinMag Box Score: 4.5

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